Cleaning up programs that Add/Remove won’t removeSeptember 5, 2008
Have you tried to uninstall a program using the Windows XP Add/Remove facility (Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs), but it just won’t go? The uninstall appears to go through correctly, but there are remnants of the program left on your computer because they are still listed in the Add/Remove programs list. No matter what you do and how many times you try to uninstall them again, you can’t get rid of them from this list. Sometimes you’ll get a message that they can’t be uninstalled but you’re given no reason why.
Invariably they are still there because there’s a registry entry or two that didn’t get cleaned up properly when you uninstalled the program the first time (NOTE: This is NOT your fault—it’s up to the software and operating system manufacturers to delete all files properly when you tell it to uninstall a program, and it’s their responsibility—and your pain—if they fail to do so).
So how do you get rid of these entries once and for all, and clean up the registry without actually going into it and hacking around and possibly damaging something irreparably?
You use Microsoft’s Windows Installer CleanUp Utility.
You can read information and warnings about this utility, and download it, However, it is no longer available from this Microsoft Support page:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;290301. but you may find it on the internet somewhere. Please read the update and warning message below. If you find it and install it, make sure you ONLY select the program you want to get rid of from the Add/Remove Programs list when you run it, then click Remove. It cleans up those errant registry entries for you.
This utility has got me out of a bind a couple of times—first when I couldn’t uninstall remnants of a very old version of Microsoft Money, and more recently when I couldn’t uninstall remnants of Acrobat Reader 6 updates.
A handy little tool to have around. Though it doesn’t address the bigger issue of software manufacturers not developing clean uninstall routines.
Update and warning (30 April 2011): John commented that this utility is no longer available from the Microsoft Support page above. And it isn’t. Microsoft now have a note about that:
This article previously contained a link to the Windows Installer Cleanup utility (MSICUU2.exe). If you were directed to this article to solve a problem installing a product other than Microsoft Office, please contact your software manufacturer for installation support on the product. … While the Windows Installer Cleanup utility resolved some installation problems, it sometimes damaged other components installed on the computer. Because of this, the tool has been removed from the Microsoft Download Center. The Fix it Solutions in this article provide the ability to fully remove Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 suites without damaging other Windows components.